Poetry Project Updates

A while ago, I mentioned that I would be working on a poetry chapbook because I want a nice, bound version of some poems I’ve written over the years so I can more easily access them on the fly.

This is legit happening, so while I usually spend time here offering practical advice about shrine space and the like or discussing things I am reading/have read, I want to take a few minutes to talk about it.

The tentative title for the chapbook is Acts of Speech. It organizes poems and prayers — many of which were published on this blog — into sections based on performative, public, and private speech. Thus, it plays with parasociality — in a performance environment, people do not see the full person on the stage, but a curated persona; in public, people see a person whom they don’t know; in private, people see someone who has welcomed them into an intimate space.

I’m calling it Acts of Speech because prayer, petition, and offerings have speech acts at their core, either silently or aloud; it comes from a legal term, so as an added bonus, it alludes to the many centuries in which such speech acts were illegal.

Its organizational structure predates my reading of Proclus’ Parmenides commentary, but the way I am slicing the content definitely draws from the same conceptual space. I have quoted from this before, but because I know people rarely do click-throughs, here is 718, trans. Morrow & Dillon, again:

Writings of a genuinely profound and theoretical character ought not to be communicated except with the greatest caution and considered judgment, lest we inadvertently expose to the slovenly hearing and neglect of the public the inexpressible thoughts of god-like souls. The human mind cannot receive all the contents of Intellect, for there are some things known to Intellect but inconceivable by us. Nor do we think it proper to put in speech all that we think of, for there are many matters that we keep secret and unexpressed, preferring to guard them in the enclosures of our minds. Nor do we put in writing all that we express in speech; we want to keep some things in our memories unwritten, or deposit them in the imaginations and thoughts of friends, not in lifeless things. Nor do we publish indiscriminately to all the world everything that we commit to writing, but only to those who are worthy of sharing them, indulging with discrimination our eagerness to make our treasures common property with others.

and ideas in this blog post I’ve written about social media.

This is what the Table of Contents in my Scrivener project looks like so far:

Part I (performative)

  • Mississippi Apollo
  • Pandora: An Afterthought
  • To the Mousai at Taughannock Falls
  • Kore and Plouton
  • To Asklepios
  • The Birth of the Erinyes
  • Iron-Maker
  • For Apollon’s Circle
  • For the Mousai
    • To Ourania
    • To Erato
    • To Klio
    • To Melpomene (in progress)
    • To Terpsikhore (in progress)
    • To Polyhymnia (in progress)
    • To Euterpe (in progress)
    • To Thalia (in progress)
    • To Kalliope (in progress)
  • Hera
  • To Hermes I
  • CDM
  • To Hermes II

Part II (public)

  • A Daily Prayer
  • To Zeus, Who Releases the Rain
  • Nineday
  • Exacters of Justice
  • For Cosmic Artemis
  • For Apollon Without Measure (in progress)
  • Light-Scattered Fire Upon Us (in progress)
  • Gê Adorns the Suns with Rings (in progress)
  • For Dionysos
  • For Apollon
  • Five Poems for Athene
    • To Athene
    • Thoughts on Deacy’s Athena
    • Three
    • To the Foresightful, Inventive One
    • To Athene Mêkhanitis
  • Erinyes
  • To the Horai
  • To Eris
  • Concord, Faith, Harmony (in progress)
  • Ephemerality — Justice — Love (in progress)
  • Online Agorae

Part III (private)

  • Like Kassandra
  • The Cosmos — Void — Night — Radiance
  • Knife’s Edge
  • Solstice Dawn
  • A Catalog of Doubts (in progress)
  • Hello, Iris (in progress)
  • The Suppliant
  • Hermes, Giver of Joy
  • Mousai
  • On a Bench in College (in progress)
  • Rediscovery
  • Julian’s Ghost
  • What Images We Make
  • Inspiraling
  • Acts of Speech
  • Eumenideia
  • To Womanly Herakles
  • On Mysteries and Bonds
  • The Cascade
  • Enthrallment
  • House of Ink
  • To the Erinyes, Who Remember All
  • Suspension
  • On Thargelia

The private speech section is the most uncomfortable for me to write/collate, but it’s also the most rewarding one to put together, and I’m still in the process of figuring out what belongs there and whether I need to write anything else so it actually achieves its intended purpose.

I’ve gone back through my diaries from my teens, which are embarrassing because they’re filled with spiritual bypassing, escapism, and out-of-touch-with-reality ideas about the spiritual world, to see if there are any lessons I can draw from the content — and in the process, I’ve decided to purge many of these journals because they’re uncomfortable to read, and I think I am at a place where I can breathe out the tension and release them.

However, I did rip out some pages that I like, like the one where I wrote (in 2003) during a brief bout of lucidity:

[The Gods and Goddesses] are one in the same sense that all humans are one. All share things and have differences. The kinship is what really matters. That is what is meant by “all are Goddess” and “all are God.” It means — basically — that all of the Gods and Goddesses are connected. They may not get along. They may have fights. Yet … they are all connected. [There’s a sentence that makes no sense in which I think I basically said that the term the God and the Goddess are generics.] One is really calling their common, inter-held pieces, their kinship, and this uniting Force of Deity that animates them all is churned forth. You call the Gods and Goddesses everything. […] Maybe I should write an essay or page about my thoughts about Deity.

Not precisely right, but not exactly wrong, either. The poems I’ve ripped out of those journals to keep are not too bad, either; thankfully, I have usually done poetry in notebooks separate from my diaries. Rereading the teen-me journals, in 2003, I was really struggling to fit the Mousai into the (Wiccan) Lord + Lady model (which I interpreted as picking a primary male and female God), and so I wondered if they aggregated up into one Muse, and that’s often how I worshipped. It led to poems like this:

I hear her: beckoning softly,
whispering sweetly,
flitting between the leaves,
dancing on the trees.
She runs over the grass,
a golden flood of light,
escaping all want and worry.
Muse, Goddess; inspire me
as I lay [sic] here, remembering.
I love you.

[Me, 27 September 2003]

Now I need to go off and thank the journals for being what they were to me when I needed them. The toxic environment I inhabited makes it a strong possibility that much of the bypassing and escapism in them was honestly life-saving, and I’m grateful to the Gods for their patience. Time has given me so much perspective.


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